Via U.S. News & World Report

Student loan debt is officially the second highest consumer debt, ahead of both credit card debt and auto loans. Conversations and solutions around student debt are only beginning to scratch the surface.

It’s a difficult topic to discuss for the 44 million Americans who currently hold student debt, and an overwhelming problem for American universities. Both realizations have left us with no other choice but to try and answer the hard questions surrounding student debt.

Struggling to pay off student loans is one of the many reasons that universities are turning to lowering some college costs, and in more unique ways than ever.

EdPlus at ASU has taken the radical idea that anyone anywhere can earn an online degree regardless of their past, and made it a reality. The Global Freshman Academy offers tuition-free freshman courses online to anyone who wants to learn. Students can then choose to pay for their course when they are satisfied with their grade.

Creating models that are scalable is key factor in being able to lower college costs. Purdue University’s recent acquisition of Kaplan’s online university is on the path to follow a similar direction as EdPlus’ Global Freshman Academy.

By creating partnerships and introducing online options to students, the cost of attending college can be significantly cut down. Still, some problems, such as low graduation rates, have persisted.

Only about 60 percent of four-year college students graduate in six years. In other words, students are taking out a lot of loans and acquiring a lot of debt ($1.3 trillion of it), and ending up with no degree to show for it.

Currently, of the 44 million Americans who have student loan debt, 8 millions of those have already defaulted on their loans. There is no single answer to solving the student debt crisis, but by creating more programs that offer free tuition and focus on inclusion, we can further the conversation.

Read about the three ways to solve the student debt crisis